State of the Profession Address: National Legal Practice Project

Tim Bugg, the Law Council of Australia’s chairman, gave the State of the Profession address at last weekend’s 35th Australian Legal Convention. He covered many topics, but this was his take on the national legal profession project:

‘With its constituent bodies, the Law Council has been a driving force behind the national legal profession project for well over a decade.

Designed to provide seamless cross border practice under a uniform regulatory scheme for Australia’s lawyers, introduction of implementing legislation in all states and territories is close at hand.

With that background, high on the list priorities for further change to complement the legislation resulting from the 2006 model bill are:

• standard professional indemnity insurance provisions;

• a regulatory framework for community legal centres;

• reviews that ensure true harmonisation of state and territory laws, and

• the integration of the harmonised framework of laws with any new federal legislation that affects the duties and obligations of practitioners.

Outside the legislative requirements of the project, there will also be focus on the work of Law Council working parties looking at:

• trust accounts streamlining;

• our model conduct rules review;

• our ethics committee review;

• the development of a national legal practitioners data base.

Notwithstanding the outstanding body of work, it is very pleasing to be able to report that many milestones have already been reached:

• legislation based on some or all of the model bill provisions operates in New South Wales, the ACT, Victoria and Queensland;

• legislation is expected to come into operation later this month in the Northern Territory;

• model regulations to support the model bill have been finalised.

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